Microsoft Project Server

For Project Management – BrightWork on SharePoint or Microsoft Project Server?

January 20, 2012 by

We often get asked whether customers should … “manage their projects on SharePoint (with a plug-in like BrightWork) or on Microsoft Project Server?”

Of course, the answer is – “it depends” – and the other part of the answer is – “in certain scenarios you can and may need and will want to use both platforms”.  In fact, as organizations mature their work, project, and portfolio management, we see the latter scenario as more usual.

It is also important to point out that BrightWork is a partner of the Microsoft Project Server team and product set and we are not comfortable competing with Microsoft Project Server and see no benefits to our customers to do so.  To compete would imply we are a real alternative (either/or) choices, which is not the case.

We often then get asked a related question … “what is the main product difference between BrightWork (which sits on SharePoint) and Microsoft Project Server?”.

Here is what we say:

Microsoft Project Server is an amazing product – it is really suitable for well managed and very structured projects that have a high degree of project management with a clean schedule in Microsoft Project that is well maintained.  The key for Project Server is that the projects need to be structured and have a Microsoft Project plan, as the Microsoft project plan (the .mpp file) is the engine that fuels and feeds the Project Server dashboards.

In the main Microsoft Project Server provides the following three extras over BrightWork:

  1. Enterprise Class Time-sheeting
  2. Enterprise Resource Levelling and Costing
  3. Very slick visual Portfolio Optimization (the UMT company that Microsoft bought).


Microsoft Project Server, is, however not designed or intended for a mix of:

  • non-project-work (e.g. support requests, tasks, etc.)
  • smaller less formal projects (that have no Microsoft Project)
  • medium-sized projects (that have no Microsoft Project)
  • larger projects (with and without Microsoft plans).


This is the exact need that BrightWork on the SharePoint platform serves.

It should be easy to select between managing projects on SharePoint (with BrightWork) and Microsoft Project Server or of course deploying both.  We really do serve complementary needs.  Project Server serves the “everything is structured” and BrightWork serves the “there is a mix of structured and unstructured – and also a mix of work and projects”.


“We at Microsoft are very pleased that BrightWork have shown Project 2010 and BrightWork integration working so early in the 2010 release cycle,” said Seth Patton, Senior Director of Product Marketing for Microsoft Project. “We do believe that the ability for customers to see a dashboard of reports in SharePoint that reports across many project sites with data synchronized in from Project Professional 2010 will be very appealing, and will provide a natural stepping stone to the full capabilities of Project Server 2010.”


I hope this blog post helps your decision process and also saves your team time and effort in making this decision.


Eamonn McGuinness

Éamonn McGuinness is the CEO and founder of BrightWork. From 1995, Éamonn has been involved in the development of commercial software products on Lotus Notes, Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365, with the same basic product mission (process-driven and people inspired collaborative project management).
Eamonn McGuinness

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